Thursday, August 9, 2007

Grasmere at the Fringe

Yesterday's theme reflected "man's inhumanity to man." Surely a fertile pool for the theatre, including this year's Fringe offerings.

Grasmere, which I saw performed yesterday, is a subtle and poignant meditation on this issue as well. Here is the description of the premise on Grasmere's web page: "Lives unravel as jealousy, addiction and love threaten to tear them apart. In the exquisite seclusion of the Lake District, William and Dorothy Wordsworth live happily until the unexpected arrival of old friends promises to change their lives forever."

Grasmere is the setting of the play. Web sources indicate it is the final home of Wordsworth. For Wordsworth, it is an oasis for his genuis to flower. For his sister Dorothy, the pastoral setting is a microcosm of early 19th century western culture. In one distinctive scene, Dorothy, clearly a gifted individual in her own right, unleashes her anguish at the limitations her gender has placed on her options. This fateful choice leads her to a difficult and painful choice that will define her fate.

The play raises provocative and timely questions. How does gender influence our lives, positively and negatively? What is the "right" choice? How is society blinded by its own bias and agendas?

Grasmere is performed by a youthful company, all of whom are mature and sure of their craft. Their honesty and integrity to their characters and the play, I think, is what this kind of Festival is all about. I hope we'll hear more from this company,


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